By guest blogger Samantha Hyatt
For the past 15 years, Girl Scouts has played a huge role in my life. I joined Girl Scouts as a Daisy in kindergarten, earned my Bronze, Silver, and Gold Awards over the years, and I am now the Corporate Communications Intern for Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida.
When I joined Girl Scouts in 2002, I did not know the profound impact it would have on my life. I learned to sew, pitch a tent, become an entrepreneur, and I gained immeasurable leadership skills. Along the way, I made friends who have withstood the test of time. Some of my best memories growing up are from camping, horseback riding, and going on adventures with my troop and my mom as my leader.
Throughout my time as a Girl Scout, my troop had an impact on so many people in our community. We sang Christmas carols at assisted living homes, were buddies with the athletes for Special Olympics bowling, purchased Christmas gifts for less fortunate children, and so much more. For our Bronze Award, we collected donated items for a family close to our troop who lost their home in a fire. To earn our Silver Award, we made cooling neckties to send to troops overseas.
In 2015, I began competing in Miss America Organization scholarship pageants where each contestant is required to have a personal service platform. Girl Scouts was an easy pick for my platform. As Miss DeSoto Heritage, I encourage girls to join Girl Scouts and remain active in their troops throughout high school. I got so much out of being a Girl Scout in high school and I want other girls to have the same opportunities. Over the past two years, I have had the opportunity to speak with 110 Girl Scouts about dreaming big, going for their Gold Awards, and graduating high school as Girl Scouts. I proudly wear my Girl Scout membership pin on my Miss DeSoto Heritage sash everywhere I go.
My senior year of high school, I started a prom dress recycling program at Lakewood Ranch High School, titled Primping for Prom and Pageants, for my Gold Award. Students and alumnae donated their prom dresses so girls who could not afford prom dresses could borrow them free of charge for prom and return them the following week. In just two years, over 30 prom gowns have been donated to my program, and girls benefit from it every year. The community support I have received, and continue to receive, for my program is incredible.
I was also a recipient of the Dr. Elinor Crawford Girl Scout College Scholarship my senior year of high school, which helped pay for my college expenses at the University of Florida the following year. Being able to state that I had been a Girl Scout for 13 years on my college applications was a great feeling, and I believe it contributed greatly to the fact that I was accepted to every college I applied. After my high school graduation, I became a lifetime member of Girl Scouts.
To fulfill my public relations internship requirement for graduation at the University of Florida, I knew I wanted to intern with Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida. I wanted to give back to the organization that has given me so much throughout my life. As the Corporate Communications Intern for Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida, I get to see behind the scenes of what it takes to make this organization so impactful for girls of all ages. Now I get to help plan the events I used to look forward to attending when I was younger.
I hope to have a daughter in Girl Scouts one day so I can encourage her to pursue her goals and go on adventures out of her comfort zone the same way my mom did for me. I have had so many special opportunities through this organization and I hope to inspire young girls to take advantage of all the benefits being Girl Scouts can give them.
Girl Scouts gave me the mindset that with hard work, persistence, and faith in myself, I can achieve anything, and that is a lesson I will carry with me for life.